Archive for November, 2012

(BLAST FROM THE PAST) LD 1333 Already Causing Fears of Skyrocketing Rates, Disgraced Insurers Coming Back to Maine

Posted on November 26, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

(Originally posted 13 Sep 2011. ~AP)

Bangor Daily reporting that the U.S. Census Bureau today will be releasing the latest uninsured figures today. But as it is based upon the 2010 census numbers, one wonders how accurate the numbers for Maine will be.

Especially in light of news that the insurance industry is already raising premiums beyond reach of many small rural Maine companies.

One company that left Maine but has now returned, Assurant, is now sending out expensive lil recruiting literature to all life and health (L&H) insurance agents in the state. Previously they did business under than name of Fortis, and had landed themselves in hot water with the State of Maine Bureau of Insurance, as did the company John Alden.

More on Assurant here, John Alden here.

Expect to see a LOT of these formerly disgraced companies coming back home to roost in Maine, thanks to LD 1333. There are many reasons they left Maine markets in the first place, and one would be wise to be skeptical of them as they return, as well as do their own research into the companies before they sign anything.

In addition to Senator Plowman’s opinion piece today where she failed repeatedly and predictably to mention her (and others) many questionable connections to ALEC and MHPC, the Bangor Daily News ran one from Rep. Walter Kumiega (D-Deer Isle).

Some clips:

One of those laws is the major health insurance overhaul Republicans pushed through a few months ago.We are already seeing the negative effects of this health insurance overhaul. The Ellsworth American reported recently that some small businesses in rural Maine will be seeing their health insurance costs go up more than 60 percent as early as October.

According to the report, small businesses in Hancock, Washington and Aroostook counties will seeinsurance premiums rise more than 60 or 70 percent. One company in Presque Isle may see an increase of 90 percent.

Premium hikes like these will put the companies at their breaking points. A recent survey of Maine people by Market Decisions found that 21 percent fear losing health insurance coverage in the next 12 months. Nearly 40 percent of those individuals said the top reason for their fear was the new health care law passed by Republicans in Augusta.

It’s no wonder they are afraid. The insurance overhaul will allow insurance companies selling individual policies to set rates based on age at up to five times higher than the lowest rate. And, most troubling, there will be no limits on rate changes depending on where you live, or what kind of job you have.

The new law expands that ratio to 1 to 5; that is, if the lowest premium is $500 a month, the highest an insurer can now charge is $2,500. The thought is that that insurers would increase the premiums for their more costly customers while – don’t laugh at this – lowering the costs for the young and healthy.

Raise your hand if you can afford $2500 a month for health insurance. Yeah, me neither.

This caught my eye, as I was in the House gallery on May 5th during the first reading of LD 1333:

During the floor debate, I asked this question to all the lawmakers in the House: “What effect will this have on premiums for a 50-year-old, self-employed fisherman living on an offshore island?” No one answered, either because they did not know or did not like the answer.

In fact, Reps. Kumiega, Webster and Russell all had questions of their colleagues that went completely unanswered. Have a look:

This is just getting started and it’s going to get much worse before it gets better.

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Democratic Weekly Radio Address by Senator Joe Brannigan (Cumberland): Giving Thanks and Helping Others During The Holiday Season

Posted on November 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Audio link here.

Good Morning. This is State Senator Joe Brannigan of Portland.

The holiday season has officially arrived. Many of us have spent Thanksgiving with family and friends and reflected on the many reasons we have to be grateful and thankful. As we move toward the new year, we often see a surge of people reaching out a helping hand toward one another. Maine people are known for a spirit of generosity and kindheartedness toward their neighbors. It’s perhaps embedded in our core values.

In fact, Volunteering in America, a national organization, found that Maine ranked 4th in the nation for volunteer hours—averaging nearly 48 hours per resident. Volunteering time adds up! In just two years, Mainers contributed over one-billion dollars in services just from volunteering.

Every day we hear stories of people rising to the occasion and making a real difference. We don’t need to look far to hear about Mainers reaching out to help a struggling neighbor—whether it’s fuel assistance to warm a family home, providing food for a family meal, or shelter to those without, many individuals are working hard to lend a helping hand.

Difficult times bring people and communities together. With a growing economic inequality in our country and right here at home, it is easy to focus on ways in which our society is pulling apart. But it is important to look at not just what divides us but at what we share—what we have in common—and how we can pull together. With a can-do attitude, and by being concerned citizens and good neighbors, we can pull together to help lift up our struggling neighbors, shore up our communities, and strengthen our state.

We’ve seen the dangers of inequality in our society. More so than ever before, extreme wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and the middle class standard of living is under assault.

Jobs are hard to find. Wages are falling—or at best, flattening. And, many are faced with hard choices like, which bill to pay or not pay; how to trim the grocery bill so there’s money left to fill the gas tank; and hoping—on a wing and a prayer—that sickness doesn’t crop up. Frustration is growing as the American Dream fades.

My Democratic colleagues and I know that it is our job to work for Maine people by coming up with real solutions for job creation and retraining our workforce; by putting policies in place that make health care more affordable to Maine people, and by strengthening our education system so that the next generation of Mainers is prepared for the jobs of the future.

There’s no doubt that times are tough. And now, more than any other time of year, we are reminded of the resourcefulness and resiliency of Maine people.

And, so it’s important to remember that there are those who have needs greater than our own, and think about ways we can help them. In keeping with the tradition of giving, there are many ways in which anyone can help a family this holiday season. Even the simplest acts of kindness may mean a world of difference.

This is State Senator Joe Brannigan. Thanks for listening. Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Maine in great position to serve as gateway to low-cost Canadian electricity

Posted on November 24, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Audio link here.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

As the seasons change and winter weather approaches Mainers look to find ways to reduce energy costs. Now is also the time to think about Maine’s use of energy as well as our own homes’ use of energy.

Maine needs a truly free energy market. I emphasized the importance of lowering our energy costs during my campaign. Creating ways to make this happen remains a priority of my administration. Recent events and reports show how Maine could better compete in the global economy if we had a competitive energy market that allows consumers their choice of resources.

Maine homeowners and small businesses have waited a dozen years to access the competitive pricing lawmakers promised in 2000, when they deregulated the state’s electricity industry. Now that competition has arrived, more than one hundred and fifty-thousand families are electricity-rate shopping from companies like Electricity Maine, Dead River, C.N. Brown, Fairpoint, and Gulf Oil. They pay rates far cheaper than the regulated “standard offer” negotiated by the Public Utilities Commission.

New technologies have made natural gas an excellent alternative for both power generation, which would further decrease the cost of electricity, and for heating homes and powering businesses.

Natural gas costs less than half of what it was five years ago. Daniel Yergin, author of The Quest: Energy, the Modern World, recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that America’s growing natural gas supplies are generating a renewal in certain manufacturing industries. The drop in natural gas prices is spurring chemical companies to plan on investing billions of dollars in new factories in the United States. Yergin notes that, in the future, China’s historical advantage in cheap labor could be offset by cheap energy in our country.

Maine must be poised to take advantage of this—for both our people and economy. A new report by the New England Council and Deloitte noted that the cost to make a highly engineered product is only 2 percent higher in Maine than in the Southern United States. In comparison, Boston is roughly 33 percent more expensive. Lowering our energy cost would make us even more competitive within New England and the United States.

Deloitte makes several suggestions to improve Maine’s energy infrastructure by making it more reliable and diversifying our energy resources. In fact, it references our dependency on heating oil and encourages us to switch to alternative fuels. In addition to natural gas, our state has an abundance of natural resources we can use to produce energy. Wood pellets are a good example. Thermal storage technologies, like geothermal, can also lower heating costs. For power generation, Maine’s hydro, biomass and tidal power options are renewable, lower in cost, and cleaner than coal and oil.

Regulations now block our ability to take advantage of the abundance of resources out there. Studies indicate that Maine’s current Renewable Portfolio Standards Law, which mandates the minimum amount of energy consumers must purchase from various sources, will raise the cost of electricity in Maine by 8 percent in the next five years.

We need to reform our energy laws and remove the 100-megawatt limitation on renewable energy sources. This cap prevents us from taking advantage of the free market and new technologies. Getting rid of the cap would allow us to produce more renewable energy, import low-cost Canadian renewable energy, and make our state more competitive in the global economy.

Maine is in a great position to serve as a gateway to low-cost Canadian electricity. The money that could be realized by transferring power from Canada to southern New England would help offset our current energy costs and be directed into improving Maine’s economy.

Therefore, as we begin this heating season and prepare for the winter and legislative session ahead, think about what you could do if you spent less on energy and let your legislators know that you’d prefer to keep that extra money in your own pocket.

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Weekly Address of President Obama: Wishing the American People a Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on November 22, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

On behalf of the Obama family – Michelle, Malia, Sasha and Bo – I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.

For us, like so many of you, this is a day full of family and friends; food and football. It’s a day to fight the overwhelming urge to take a nap – at least until after dinner. But most of all, it’s a time to give thanks for each other, and for the incredible bounty we enjoy.

That’s especially important this year. As a nation, we’ve just emerged from a campaign season that was passionate, noisy, and vital to our democracy. But it also required us to make choices – and sometimes those choices led us to focus on what sets us apart instead of what ties us together; on what candidate we support instead of what country we belong to.

Thanksgiving is a chance to put it all in perspective – to remember that, despite our differences, we are, and always will be, Americans first and foremost.

Today we give thanks for blessings that are all too rare in this world. The ability to spend time with the ones we love; to say what we want; to worship as we please; to know that there are brave men and women defending our freedom around the globe; and to look our children in the eye and tell them that, here in America, no dream is too big if they’re willing to work for it.

We’re also grateful that this country has always been home to Americans who see these blessings not simply as gifts to enjoy, but as opportunities to give back. Americans who believe we have a responsibility to look out for those less fortunate – to pull each other up and move forward together.

Right now, as we prepare to gather around our dinner tables, there are families in the northeast who don’t have that luxury. Many of them have lost everything to Hurricane Sandy – homes, possessions, even loved ones. And it will be a long time before life goes back to normal.

But in the midst of so much tragedy, there are also glimmers of hope. Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen FEMA personnel, National Guard and first responders working around the clock in hard-hit communities. We’ve seen hospital workers using their lunch breaks to distribute supplies. Families offering up extra bedrooms. The fire department advertising free hot showers. Buses full of volunteers coming from hundreds of miles away. Neighbors sharing whatever they have – food, water, electricity – and saying again and again how lucky they are to have a roof over their heads.

It would have been easy for these folks to do nothing – to worry about themselves and leave the rest to someone else. But that’s not who we are. That’s not what we do.

As Americans, we are a bold, generous, big-hearted people. When our brothers and sisters are in need, we roll up our sleeves and get to work – not for the recognition or the reward, but because it’s the right thing to do. Because there but for the grace of God go I. And because here in America, we rise or fall together, as one nation and one people.

That’s something to be grateful for – today and every day.

So to all the Americans doing your part to make our world a better place – it is my privilege to serve as your President. To all our servicemembers – it is my honor to be your Commander in Chief. And from our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.

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(UPDATED) Final List of Maine State House 126th Legislature with Full Updated Recount Details

Posted on November 21, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

More ballots arriving for recounts via Maine State Police transport.

While the majority of the 2012 election results were known quickly, almost a dozen legislative races were close enough to generate manual recounts. These recounts were a result of either being automatically generated due to the closeness of the initial tallies or per request of a candidate.

The manual examinations included recounting all ballots separately for each municipality within the district, searching for any potentially overlooked ballots accidentally tucked into stacks of absentee envelopes, ensuring that the overseas ballots from other areas of the state were either not accidentally included or that overseas ballots were not accidentally omitted and investigation of all rejected ballots.

The process was methodical, meticulous, slow and tedious, yet professionally and expertly handled by Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn and her staff over the course of the past 2 weeks at the Maine Public Safety Building in Augusta.

The entire proceedings, open to the public, included teams made of an official from the Secretary of State’s office working with both a registered Democratic and Republican volunteer. There were attorneys for both parties available throughout the recounts as well as other support staff tabulating the final tallies before the final certification, which included signatures from the candidates in addition to the political party’s attorneys and officials from the Secretary of State’s office.

Here is the full breakdown of the recounts:

Wednesday, November 14

HD 80’s Rep. Mel Newendyke (R-Litchfield) is congratulated by Democratic challenger Rachel Sukeforth

8:30 am HD 80- Sukeforth (D)/ incumbent Newendyke (R). Newendyke up 5.
(Incumbent GOP Rep. Mel Newendyke (Litchfield) was able to hold on to a 3 vote lead to win re-election)

1 pm HD 127- Aronson (D)/ incumbent Volk (R). Volk up 5.
(Rep. Amy Volk of Scarborough won her re-election bid with a 12 vote margin)

5:30 pm HD 94- incumbent Hayes (D)/ Turner (R). Hayes up 34.
(Rep. Terry Hayes, the Assistant Minority Leader of the 125th Legislature, added to her lead and clinched her win by a 58 vote advantage)

GOP Rep Bruce Bickford and Democratic challenger wait together for the results of the closest recount, HD 70.

Thursday, November 15

8:30 am HD 70- Werts (D)/ incumbent Bickford (R). Werts up 2.
(Auburn’s Wayne Werts’ lead doubled to 4, as he was proclaimed the winner over Rep. Bruce Bickford in the tightest of the recounts)

1 pm HD 144- Noon (D)/ Archambault (R). Noon up 19.
(William Noon added to his lead and won by 23 votes. This was an open seat, previously held by Republican Rep. Joan Nass of Acton)

5:30 pm HD 109- incumbent Graham (D)/ Austin (R). Graham up 42.
(Rep. Anne Graham won her recount with a final tally of 34 votes)

Friday, November 17

SD 17 Democratic challenger Colleen Quint observes the recounts for her race.

8:30 SD 17- Quint(D)/ incumbent Mason (R). Mason up 50.
(Incumbent GOP Rep. Garrett Mason lost ground in the recount process, but ultimately won by a 28 vote margin)

Monday, November 19

Deputy Secretary of State and recount lead official Julie Flynn congratulates Representative-elect Brian Jones of Freedom on his HD 45 win. Also pictured: Democratic lawyer Katherine Knox and House Democratic coordinated campaign staffer Brendan Mayhieu

8:30 am HD 45- Jones (D)/ incumbent Harmon (R). Jones up 33.
(GOP Rep. Ryan Harmon was upset by Democratic challenger Brian Jones of Freedom by a final margin of 31 votes)

1 pm HD 137- incumbent Casavant (D)/ Guay (R). Casavant up 15.
(Rep. Alan Casavant’s lead held and he won re-election by the 15 vote margin)

5:30 pm HD 54- Nadeau (D)/ incumbent Morrissette (R). Nadeau up 34.
(GOP Rep. Susan Morrissette of Winslow was upset by Democratic challenger Catherine Nadeau, whose lead after the recount was extended to a 52 vote victory)


Tuesday, November 20

Former State Senator and US Congressional District 1 GOP candidate Jon Courtney congratulates Senator Chris Johnson on his SD 20 re-election victory)

8:30 am SD 20 (Lincoln County)- incumbent Johnson (D)/ Fossel(R). Johnson up 164.
(Incumbent Senator Chris Johnson’s lead increased to a 171 margin)

(Sidenote: After his loss, former Rep. Les Fossel told Kennebec Journal reporter Sue Cover that he blamed his loss on ‘dirty politics’ and made this statement: “I’m going to figure out a way to punish people who do dirty campaigning.”

Interesting…)

HD 29’s Representative-Elect Stan Short (D-Pittsfield) is congratulated by GOP staff attorney Bill Logan, as MDP vice chair and AG candidate Janet Mills looks on)

5:30 pm HD 29- Short (D)/ Englehart (R). Short up 15.
(This open seat formerly held by GOP Rep. Stacey Fitts of Pittsfield went to Stanley Short of Pittsfield, who won by 11 votes)

So here now is the full list of the 126th Legislature that will be sworn in on December 5th:

    SENATE

    SD1- Dawn Hill (D)- Incumbent

    SD2- Ronald Collins (R)- Incumbent

    SD3- John Tuttle (D)

    SD4- David Dutremble (D)

    SD5- Linda Valentino (D)

    SD6- James Boyle (D)

    SD7- Rebecca Millett (D)

    SD8- Justin Alfond (D)- Incumbent; Senate President

    SD9- Anne Haskell (D)

    SD10- Stan Gerzofsky (D)- Incumbent

    SD11- Dick Woodbury (I)- Incumbent

    SD12- Gary Plummer (R)

    SD13- James Hamper (R)

    SD14- John Patrick (D)- Incumbent

    SD15- John Cleveland (D)

    SD16- Margaret Craven (D)- Incumbent

    SD17- Garrett Mason (R)- Incumbent

    SD18- Thomas Saviello (R)- Incumbent

    SD19- Seth Goodall (D)- Incumbent; Majority Leader

    SD20- Christopher Johnson (D)- Incumbent

    SD21- Patrick Flood (R)

    SD22- Edward Mazurek (D)

    SD23- Michael Thibodeau (R)- Incumbent; Minority Leader

    SD24- Roger Katz (R)- Incumbent; Assistant Minority Leader

    SD25- Colleen Lachowicz (D)

    SD26- Rodney Whittemore (R)- Incumbent

    SD27- Douglas Thomas (R)- Incumbent

    SD28- Brian Langley (R)- Incumbent

    SD29- David Burns (R)

    SD30- Emily Cain (D)

    SD31- Edward Youngblood (R)

    SD32- Geoffrey Gratwick (D)

    SD33- Andre Cushing (R)

    SD34- Roger Sherman (R)- Incumbent

    SD35- Troy Jackson (D)- Incumbent; Assistant Majority Leader

    HOUSE

    HD1- Allen Nadeau (R)

    HD2- Ken Theriault (D)- Incumbent

    HD3- Bernard Ayotte (R)- Incumbent

    HD4- Carol McElwee (R)

    HD5- Robert Saucier (D)

    HD6- Tyler Clark (R)- Incumbent

    HD7- Alex Willette (R)- Incumbent; Assistant Minority Leader

    HD8- Joyce Fitzpatrick (R)- Incumbent

    HD9- Ricky Long (R)- Incumbent

    HD10- Stephen Stanley (D)

    HD11- Beth Turner (R)- Incumbent

    HD12- Jeffery Gifford (R)- Incumbent

    HD13- Anita Haskell (R)

    HD14- James Dill (D)- Incumbent

    HD15- Adam Goode (D)- Incumbent

    HD16- John Schneck (D)

    HD17- Victoria Kornfield (D)

    HD18- Aaron Frey (D)

    HD19- Ryan Tipping-Spitz (D)

    HD20- David Johnson (R)- Incumbent

    HD21- Arthur Verow (D)

    HD22- Stacey Guerin (R)- Incumbent

    HD23- Roger Reed (R)

    HD24- Raymond Wallace (R)- Incumbent

    HD25- Ken Fredette (R)- Incumbent; Minority Leader

    HD26- Paul Davis Sr (R)- Incumbent

    HD27- Peter Johnson (R)- Incumbent

    HD28- Dean Cray (R)- Incumbent

    HD29- Stanley Short (D)

    HD30- Lawrence Lockman (R)- Incumbent

    HD31- Joyce Maker (R)- Incumbent

    HD32- Katherine Cassidy (D)

    HD33- Peter Doak (R)

    HD34- Richard Malaby (R)- Incumbent

    HD35- Brian Hubbell (D)

    HD36- Walter Kumiega (D)- Incumbent

    HD37- Ralph Chapman (D)- Incumbent

    HD38- Louis Luchini (D)- Incumbent

    HD39- Brian Duprey (D)

    HD40- Richard Campbell (R)

    HD41- James Gillway (R)- Incumbent

    HD42- Joseph Brooks (I)

    HD43- Erin Herbig (D)- Incumbent

    HD44- Jethro Pease (R)

    HD45- Brian Jones (D)

    HD46- Joan Welsh (D)- Incumbent

    HD47- Elizabeth Dickerson (D)

    HD48- Charles Kruger (D)- Incumbent

    HD49- Jeffrey Evangelos (I)

    HD50- Ellen Winchenbach (R)

    HD51- Mick Devin (D)

    HD52- Deborah Sanderson (R)- Incumbent

    HD53- Timothy Marks (D)

    HD54- Catherine Nadeau (D)

    HD55- David Cotta (R)- Incumbent

    HD56- Corey Wilson (R)

    HD57- Matthew Pouliot (R)

    HD58- Lori Fowle (D)

    HD59- Gay Grant (D)

    HD60- Andrew Mason (D)

    HD61- Bruce MacDonald (D)- Incumbent

    HD62- Jennifer DeChant (D)

    HD63- Charles Priest (D)- Incumbent

    HD64- Jeremy Saxton (D)

    HD65- Peter Kent (D)- Incumbent

    HD66- Matthea Daughtry (D)

    HD67- Seth Berry (D)- Incumbent; Majority Leader

    HD68- Michael Beaulieu (R)- Incumbent

    HD69- Brian D. Bolduc (D)- Incumbent

    HD70- Wayne Werts (D)

    HD71- Mike Lajoie (D)- Incumbent

    HD72- Michael Carey (D)- Incumbent

    HD73- Nathan Libby (D)

    HD74- Margaret Rotundo (D)- Incumbent

    HD75- Stephen Wood (R)- Incumbent

    HD76- Henry Beck (D)- Incumbent

    HD77- Thomas Longstaff (D)- Incumbent

    HD78- Robert Nutting (R)- Incumbent

    HD79- Sharon Treat (D)- Incumbent

    HD80- Melvin Newendyke (R)- Incumbent

    HD81- Gary Knight (R)- Incumbent

    HD82- Craig Hickman (D)

    HD83- Dennis Keschl (R)- Incumbent

    HD84- Karen Kusiak (D)

    HD85- Jeffrey McCabe (D)- Incumbent; Assistant Majority Leader

    HD86- Ann Dorney (D)

    HD87- Paul Gilbert (D)- Incumbent

    HD88- Larry Dunphy (R)- Incumbent

    HD89- Lance Harvell (R)- Incumbent

    HD90- Russell Black (R)- Incumbent

    HD91- Jarrod Crockett (R)- Incumbent

    HD92- Matthew J. Peterson (D)- Incumbent

    HD93- Sheryl Briggs (D)- Incumbent

    HD94- Terry Hayes (D) – Incumbent

    HD95- Tom Winsor (R)- Incumbent

    HD96- Jeffrey Timberlake (R)- Incumbent

    HD97- Helen Rankin (D)- Incumbent

    HD98- Lisa Villa (D)

    HD99- Jonathan Kinney (R)

    HD100- Roger Jackson (R)

    HD101- Christine Powers (D)

    HD102- Michael Shaw (D)- Incumbent

    HD103- Michael McClellan (R)- Incumbent

    HD104- Dale Crafts (R)- Incumbent

    HD105- Elsie Espling (R)- Incumbent

    HD106- Sara Gideon (D)

    HD107- Janice Cooper (D)

    HD108- Stephen Moriarty (D)

    HD109- Anne Graham (D)- Incumbent

    HD110- Thomas Tyler (R)

    HD111- Jane Pringle (D)

    HD112- Mary Nelson (D)- Incumbent

    HD113- Mark Dion (D- Incumbent)

    HD114- Peter Stuckey (D)- Incumbent

    HD115- Erik Jorgensen (D)

    HD116- Denise Harlow (D)- Incumbent

    HD117- Richard Farnsworth (D)

    HD118- Matthew Moonen (D)

    HD119- Benjamin Chipman (I)- Incumbent

    HD120- Diane Russell (D)- Incumbent

    HD121- Kimberly Monaghan-Derrig (D)- Incumbent

    HD122- Terry Morrison (D)- Incumbent

    HD123- Scott Hamann (D)

    HD124- Bryan Kaenrath (D)- Incumbent

    HD125- Ann Peoples (D)- Incumbent

    HD126- Andrew Gattine (D)

    HD127- Amy Volk (R)- Incumbent

    HD128- Heather Sirocki (R)- Incumbent

    HD129- Andrew McLean (D)

    HD130- Linda Sanborn (D)- Incumbent

    HD131- Donald Marean (R)

    HD132- Sharri MacDonald (R)

    HD133- Barry Hobbins (D)

    HD134- Justin Chenette (D)

    HD135- Paulette Beaudoin (D)- Incumbent

    HD136- Megan Rochelo (D)- Incumbent

    HD137- Alan Casavant (D)- Incumbent

    HD138- James Campbell (I)

    HD139- Aaron Libby (R)- Incumbent

    HD140- Wayne Parry (R)- Incumbent

    HD141- Paul Bennett (R)- Incumbent

    HD142- Andrea Boland (D) – Incumbent

    HD143- Anne-Marie Mastraccio (D)

    HD144- William Noon (D)

    HD145- Joshua Plante (D)

    HD146- Mark Eves (D)- Incumbent; Speaker of the House

    HD147- Kathleen Chase (R)- Incumbent

    HD148- Roberta Beavers (D)- Incumbent

    HD149- Paul McGowan (D)

    HD150- Windol Weaver (R)- Incumbent

    HD151- Deane Rykerson (D)

    Tribal Representatives

    Wayne Mitchell (Penobscot Nation)
    Madonna Soctomah (Passamaquoddy Tribe)

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Weekly Address of President Obama: Working Together to Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts

Posted on November 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Hello, everybody.

On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.

That’s why I’ve invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together. I also intend to bring in business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington to get their ideas and input as well.

At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That’s the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It’s a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. It’s a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it’s a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit – decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future.

Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending, and I intend to work with both parties to do more. But as I said over and over again on the campaign trail, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue – and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That’s how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that’s the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing – all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.

Already, I’ve put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Now, I’m open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach – that includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

Now we need a majority in Congress to listen – and they should start by making sure taxes don’t go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It’s a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There’s no reason to wait.

We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That’s part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won’t tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word. Not when so many of your families are still struggling.

Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That’s what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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Weekly Democratic Address by Rep. Seth Berry (Bowdoinham): Maine needs strong economy – built from the middle out not from the top down

Posted on November 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Audio link here.

Good morning, I’m State Rep. Seth Berry, the new Democratic Majority Leader for the Maine House.

Thank you for listening on this Saturday morning before the Thanksgiving Holiday.

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what we have — and to remember to help those who may not be as fortunate.

Maine people have a tradition of generosity — Many of us open our tables to our families, friends and neighbors. We donate food and supplies to local food drives. Over the past few weeks, Governor LePage and the First Lady opened the Blaine House and collected and donated more than 1,568 pounds of nonperishable food items to the Good Shepherd Food Banks.

That’s something to be proud of. We can all do our part to help our neighbors.

In Maine, more and more families are struggling. We’ve seen the income gap between the poor and the wealthy grow, while the middle class shrinks. We are now dead last for personal income growth in the country and we are losing jobs, while other states around us are emerging from the recession.

Just this morning, I met with workers who are fighting for their jobs at the Hostess bakery in Biddeford, where they have been picketing for days. They are standing up for their jobs, their families, and the families everywhere who are facing the same struggle.

They simply want what we all want: A good day’s pay and benefits for a hard day’s work. During the last few months, Democratic candidates knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors and spoke to Mainers across the state and the message was the same:

Maine people want a real chance to succeed, and to build from our state’s strengths and from our middle class. They want a strong economy – built from the middle out not from the top down.

Maine people want good schools for our children, they want to be able to keep their house warm in the winter, and they want to be able to put food on the table and be able to afford to see their doctor when they are sick.
This is the right thing to do both morally and economically.

Policies that support lower health care costs, stronger schools, and more energy efficiency help to create jobs and put more money in the pockets of middle class families.
It’s a tall order but Maine lawmakers must work together to deliver.

We are up to the task. We are here to strengthen our economy.

After serving as a teacher for two-decades, I can tell you this is a group assignment, not an individual one; Wherever our Republican friends, colleagues and the Governor are willing to work with us, to seek common ground and common-sense solutions, we’re ready to get to work with them. Because if it helps Maine people, then every party and every leader should want to help.

Thank you for listening. Happy Thanksgiving. I’m Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham.

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Weekly Address of Governor Paul LePage: Thanksgiving Reflections and the Heart of Maine

Posted on November 17, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

Audio link here.

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

When Mainers say grace at the Thanksgiving table Thursday, we will offer thanks to the family, friends and community who surround and support us.

Maine people have a tradition of caring for their neighbors as they care for themselves and their own families.
I’ve seen that spirit of goodwill during the recent recession as many Mainers kindly stepped-up to help those less fortunate.

This fall, the First Lady and I had the honor to open our own doors for three donation days as part of our second annual Blaine House Food Drive. Our friends at the Good Shepherd Food Bank will help distribute that food to those who need it most. We were humbled by the hundreds of Mainers who came from across the state to give thousands of pounds of non-perishable foods.

A group of Girl Scouts traveled all the way from Washington County on a Saturday, simply because they wanted to help others. They learned – as so many Mainers have – that when we give, we also receive.

It was important for Ann and me to instill in our children the gift of service to others. It has been a tradition for our family to help the less fortunate in our community. I know how difficult it can be to swallow your pride and ask for help. But it was a privilege for our family to give grace and the dignity deserved to those who had fallen on tough times.

I know first-hand they can get back up.

As I reflect on what I am most appreciative of this Thanksgiving, it is not a government policy or program, but the great and generous spirit of the people of Maine.

As someone who has been without, I know it is not government hand-outs but the commitment and love of Maine people and community organizations that improves lives and strengthens our State.

I sincerely believe more in the heart of people, than in the soul of government.

Government certainly should and must safeguard our most vulnerable, but government cannot provide what we need most.

The care and compassion in each of us – shared with others especially this time of year – will make the most difference in people’s lives. We are all in this together.

In that spirit, I want to recognize that many of our own neighbors to the south are spending Thanksgiving away from homes and towns that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. And our thanks go to those – including the many Mainers – assisting with the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Thank you for listening. Ann and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

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(BLAST FROM THE PAST) Maine Asks LePage: “Which Communties Are About To Default, Governor?”

Posted on November 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

(With Governor LePage now stating that there is a school in Maine, which he wouldn’t name because it’s “embarrassing,” where only 23 percent of graduates are proficient in English and math, it seems a good time to dust off this oldie but goodie post… ~AP)

Originally posted 19 Feb 2011:

 


My friend Gerald has a “default poll” post running today, so I thought we could run one as well to elaborate on his poll! BTW, so far 92% (23 of 25) responders think LePage is “making sh*t up”.

Our MPW Question:

“Which communities do you believe Gov. LePage was referring to when he said that some were ready to default?”

Even in these days of zippity-quick social media, strong enough that a handful of people can overthrow 30 years of oppression by utilizing Facebook and Twitter, it appears that sometimes it still takes some time for traditional media to pay attention and catch up to what’s going on in their own state.

Take for example, Governor LePage’s statement as first reported in Dirigo Blue (emphasis mine):

I have transcribed the section in which Gov. LePage mentions these couple of communities. The text that is struck through was part of the prepared remarks he did not read. The underlined is what he added:

We owe twice as much in debt as we expect to collect in General Fund Revenues the next biennium. Over the next two years and our the State of Maine debt as a percentage of state GDP is twice the national average; twice. There are several states that I was reading this week that our teetering on default with municipal bonds. They are Texas, New Jersey, and New York, and folks, we’re only a few numbers behind them.Because whether or not the State defaults, we have a couple of communities that are ready to default. So folks, it is a lot more serious than anyone is willing to give it credit.

That’s the bad news.

Pretty serious stuff from the Governor! This was an address delivered Thursday 10 Feb 2011 to the joint session of the Statehouse with plenty of media there- so one would think that said media would have picked UP on this statement by the Governor and asked him specifically,“What communities?”

Yet none did. For DAYS.

DB then followed up by asking legislators why they were not questioning the Governor- the next day, Democrats responded with a press release:


Democratic lawmakers ask Governor to name “default” communities mentioned in budget speech 


Legislators from financial services committee say we must hear from Maine towns that are ready to “default”
AUGUSTA – Democratic lawmakers on the Insurance and Financial Affairs Committee, which considers policy related to banking and foreclosure matters, are calling on the governor to identify the Maine towns he named in his budget speech that are ready to “default.”

“If the governor knows of towns in our state that are facing bankruptcy, lawmakers have an obligation and responsibility to hear directly from those towns,” said Rep. Sharon Treat of Hallowell, who serves as the lead Democrat on the committee and a sponsor of Maine’s strong foreclosure protection laws. “If Maine municipalities are truly on the brink of insolvency, we need to hear about it and make sure the legal and financial safeguards are in place to protect the public.”

The Maine Municipal Association told the House Democratic Office that they are unaware of any Maine town in danger of going bankrupt.

“If my town was facing bankruptcy, I would want to know and I would consider it my duty as representative to work with the state to help my community,” said Rep. Adam Goode of Bangor, a Democratic lawmaker serving on the committee. “The governor’s speech was the first time we heard that there are municipalities in our state that are going bankrupt. The comments are even more worrisome considering the governor’s budget proposal to cut funding to towns.”

The governor’s budget proposal reduces the percentage of revenue sharing provided to municipalities for two years.

Since then, attention is finally being paid by local media and pressure put upon the LePage administration to “put up or shut up”, as people on Facebook and Twitter are discussing the comments, the Governor’s refusal to disclose the names of the communities- and statewide speculation is growing as to whether or not there is any truth to these statements at all.

MPBN: LePage Refuses to Name “Ready to Default” Maine Towns

 

But the governor has not budged. In a statement, his office said LePage “has had private conversations with leaders from a couple of Maine communities that face severe financial stress. He is monitoring the progress, but will not be naming the communities.””I don’t know what private discussions may or may not have been held, but we at Maine Municipal Association are not aware of any two or three municipalities sort of teetering on insolvency,” says Eric Conrad, spokesman for the association, which represents Maine’s towns and cities.

Adding to the group’s confusion is the governor’s lack of specifics about the problems the cited communities were facing. “We heard him when he said it,” Conrad says. “But we looked a each other and we’re just not sure–was he talking about pension liability, for instance, or overall financial operations. We’re just not clear.”

State statute says that a special board would have to be established to enable financially-troubled municipalities to get assistance from the state. Staff at the Maine Municipal Association say that has not happened before, in their recollection.

Lewiston Sun Journal: LePage dogged by calls to name “default” towns

LePage spokesman Dan Demeritt has declined to name the communities the governor referred to in his budget speech. “The governor doesn’t think it’s his place to share that kind of news,” Demeritt said. “He was speaking in his budget address, and that’s as far as he wanted to go with it.”Demeritt said he wasn’t aware of any communities approaching the state because they couldn’t pay their bills. However, he said, “the governor knows how to read a balance sheet” and he had identified a couple of communities that were in trouble.

Eric Conrad, communications director for the Maine Municipal Association, said no community had come forward with that kind of news. “We’re just not sure what (LePage) meant when he said that,” Conrad said. “If there were communities approaching insolvency, we think we would know. But we don’t know if the governor was talking about pensions or something else.”

Conrad said nobody he spoke with at the association could recall an example of a town defaulting or initiating the state takeover outlined in Title 30 of Maine law.

Asked why the governor wouldn’t name the communities, Demeritt said the governor didn’t think it was appropriate, even though those towns would become public if they fell under Title 30.

Hmm. Someone should file a FOIA to see that same spreadsheet that Demeritt referenced…

MyFoxMaine: Governor’s ‘Default’ Claim Questioned

The Maine Municipal Association says it’s not aware of any Maine town in danger of going bankrupt.  But the Governor’s office says it is true.  Still, it does not plan to release more details.”Governor LePage has had private conversations with leaders from a couple of Maine communities that face severe financial stress.   He is monitoring the progress, but will not be naming the communities,” said Dan Demeritt with the Governor’s office.

WGME: Governor LePage: Some Maine communities facing “default”

Bangor Daily News (same story as LSJ): LePage refuses to name ‘ready-to-default’ towns

And still, the Governor has refused to answer the questions. And for the second week in a row, LePage has failed to issue a weekly address to the State of Maine.

So much for openness and transparency…

 

 

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Weekly Address of President Obama: Extending Middle Class Tax Cuts to Grow the Economy

Posted on November 10, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Hello, everybody.

On Tuesday, America went to the polls. And the message you sent was clear: you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.

That’s why I’ve invited leaders of both parties to the White House next week, so we can start to build consensus around challenges we can only solve together. I also intend to bring in business, labor and civic leaders from outside Washington to get their ideas and input as well.

At a time when our economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, our top priority has to be jobs and growth. That’s the focus of the plan I talked about during the campaign. It’s a plan to reward businesses that create jobs here in America, and give people access to the education and training that those businesses are looking for. It’s a plan to rebuild our infrastructure and keep us on the cutting edge of innovation and clean energy. And it’s a plan to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way.

This is even more important because at the end of this year, we face a series of deadlines that require us to make major decisions about how to pay down our deficit – decisions that will have a huge impact on the economy and the middle class, now and in the future.

Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars’ worth of spending, and I intend to work with both parties to do more. But as I said over and over again on the campaign trail, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue – and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes. That’s how we did it when Bill Clinton was President. And that’s the only way we can afford to invest in education and job training and manufacturing – all the ingredients of a strong middle class and a strong economy.

Already, I’ve put forward a detailed plan that allows us to make these investments while reducing our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. Now, I’m open to compromise and new ideas. But I refuse to accept any approach that isn’t balanced. I will not ask students or seniors or middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people making over $250,000 aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. This was a central question in the election. And on Tuesday, we found out that the majority of Americans agree with my approach – that includes Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

Now we need a majority in Congress to listen – and they should start by making sure taxes don’t go up on the 98% of Americans making under $250,000 a year starting January 1. This is something we all agree on. Even as we negotiate a broader deficit reduction package, Congress should extend middle-class tax cuts right now. It’s a step that would give millions of families and 97% of small businesses the peace of mind that will lead to new jobs and faster growth. There’s no reason to wait.

We know there will be differences and disagreements in the months to come. That’s part of what makes our political system work. But on Tuesday, you said loud and clear that you won’t tolerate dysfunction, or politicians who see compromise as a dirty word. Not when so many of your families are still struggling.

Instead, you want cooperation. You want action. That’s what I plan to deliver in my second term, and I expect to find leaders from both parties willing to join me.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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